How much do you know about jazz music? Does the thought of jazz instantly make you think of smooth (and slightly boring), background music that you whack on at a dinner party? Well if it does, then I’m here to prove to you that that isn’t all that jazz music is. It can be emotional, upbeat, wild and absolutely amazing. Don’t believe me? Well go ahead and listen to these 30 jazz tracks and tell me otherwise!
This is the first post in a twelve-part series entitled ‘Music Monthly’. In each post I take you through a specific genre of music varying from funk to soul to new wave. To kick it all off I’ve picked out 30 jazz tracks that you seriously need to listen to.
A Very Brief History of Jazz Music
Before we get to the playlist itself it’s a good idea to learn a little about what jazz music is and where it’s come from. So, it originated in African-American communities in New Orleans, USA in the late 19th to early 20th century, with its roots stemming from blues and ragtime. The 1920s saw jazz become its own form of musical expression across more traditional and popular styles of music. And the ‘20s themselves were actually known as the ‘jazz age’ and of course the ‘roaring twenties’ as well.
The 1930s saw jazz music take on a big band theme with heavily arrange swing bands taking centre stage. Then the ’40s brought ‘bebop’ jazz which was a much faster tempo sub-genre that is often described as the ‘musicians music’. Much less danceable than the likes of the ’20s and ’30s jazz music.
After that the 1950s brought us ‘hard-bop’ which consisted of rhythm and blue influences particularly on the saxophone and piano parts. The ’60s and ’70s focuses on a ‘jazz-rock’ and then the ’80s brought along the oh so familiar ‘smooth jazz’ genre, which was big when it came to radio play. Overall jazz music can be characterised as having a swing rhythm and features plenty of improvisation, all of which added to its danceability.
If you want to do some of your own reading about jazz music as a genre then you can check out the full wiki page here.
30 Jazz Tracks That You Need To Listen To: My Love of Jazz
I’ve always been a fan of jazz music but I’ll have to admit I’ve never really done any sort of in-depth exploration of the genre. I have my favourite tracks all combined into a playlist but I don’t often stray from my go-to tracks. So for this playlist I’ve included a mix of my favourites, some all time classics and a few new favourites too. If there’s one place to start when it comes to learn a bit about jazz music then it’s this playlist.
My Favourites from the Playlist…
Leon Bridges has become a real new favourite artist of mine, not just in terms of jazz music but in music in general. I ended up including two of his tracks in this playlist; Bet Ain’t Worth The Hand and Bad Bad News, both of which are from his 2018 album Good Thing. Another new (ish) favourite is Raphael Saadiq’s Love That Girl from The Way I See It (2008).
Bringing it back to “old skool” I went with Frank Sinatra’s Come Fly With Me from the album Come Fly With Me (1958). Every time I listen to it I’m reminded of Catch Me If You Can. There’s an iconic scene near the end that features this track. Have any of you ever seen it? If you haven’t then definitely give it a watch. A young Leonardo DiCaprio stars in it so if that doesn’t persuade you I don’t know what will.
A final favourite of mine is Miles Davis’ ‘Round Midnight from ‘Round About Midnight (1957). This is one that has featured on a number of my playlists in the past. It’s such a great late-night track when you’re just having a chill. But, it’s also perfect for early mornings too.
Are you a fan of jazz music? Is it something that you listen to on the regular or more of a new discovery for you? What are some of your favourite jazz tracks? Let me know in the comments!
*Photography by Andrei Bocan via Unsplash